TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Books on Cocoa Programming

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: Reviews

Books on Cocoa Programming

The field is filling in...

by Rich Morin

I've spent the last few months learning my way around Cocoa programming, using a combination of Objective-C and Perl. I'm not anything like a wizard yet, but I'm getting by and even starting to feel a bit confident. I have received lots of support from folks on assorted mailing lists, but these books got heavy usage first. "Read the Fine Manual", and all :-).

Whether you're just starting up the Cocoa learning curve or well along the way, I'd suggest that you consider getting some of these books:

Building Cocoa Applications: A Step-by-Step Guide Simson Garfinkel & Michael K. Mahoney

O'Reilly, 2002; ISBN 0-596-00235-1

622 pp.; $44.99

Cocoa Programming

Scott Anguish, Erik M. Buck, Donald A. Yacktman

SAMS, 2002; ISBN 0-672-32230-7

1245 pp.; $59.99

Cocoa Programming for Dummies

Erick Tejkowski

Wiley, 2003; ISBN 0-7645-2613-8

366 pp.; $24.99

Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X

Aaron Hillegass

Addison-Wesley, 2002; ISBN 0-201-72683-1

383 pp.; $44.99

Cocoa Recipes for Mac OS X: The Vermont Recipes

Bill Cheeseman

Peachpit Press, 2003; ISBN 0-201-87801-1

752 pp.; $44.99

Learning Cocoa with Objective-C (2nd edition)

James Duncan Davidson & Apple

O'Reilly, 2002; ISBN 0-596-00301-3

360 pp.; $34.95

Executive Summary

If you're just starting out, I'd recommend "Cocoa Programming for Dummies". Really. It's economical, a fast read, and will give you a quick and painless introduction to the main topics you'll be studying later.

Next, you'll want to skim the two O'Reilly books ("Learning Cocoa with Objective-C" and "Building Cocoa Applications"). You'll also want to keep them close at hand for reference. If you already have some O'Reilly books, you'll know what to expect from these: clean, solid presentation, consistent organization, good production values, etc..

With this background, you'll be ready to tackle any of the last three volumes. I found each of these to contained things that the others did not, but "Cocoa Programming" was by far the most detailed and definitive of the lot. In fact, if you can only afford to buy one Cocoa programming book, "Cocoa Programming" would be the best use of your money.

Cocoa Programming for Dummies

The goals and approach of this book are about as far from "Cocoa Programming" as it is possible to be. It isn't particularly detailed, let alone definitive, and screenshots fill many of the pages. Nonetheless, it is a worthwhile book. In fact, it's the best "jump start" book I've seen, providing a painless way for "newbies" to pick up the key concepts of Cocoa programming. Just be ready to buy some more books before trying to shift into second :-).

Although the book itself contains relatively little code, the supporting web site (www.dummies.com/extras) has quite a bit. In fact, it provides a 16 MB ".sea" archive with source code, pre-built packages, and more. The examples are all simple, but that's quite appropriate to the introductory nature of the book.

Learning Cocoa with Objective-C

Although I like this book, I was surprised by the number of typos and other small errors I encountered while reading it. I shouldn't be able to find dozens of glitches in any O'Reilly book; given that this is a second edition, I should be hard-pressed to find any at all.

Nonetheless, it's a good introductory book. It covers the basics of Cocoa, Objective-C, OOP, etc.. It won't take you very far into Cocoa programming, but it's a fine lead-in and will also be handy to keep around as a reference. Like "Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X", it contains a wealth of useful diagrams, which frequently help to clarify the topic under discussion.

Building Cocoa Applications

Although I found this book useful, it is not my idea of a "Step-by-Step Guide". After short introductions to Aqua and Apple's development tools (~60 pages each), it jumps headlong into three large "Applications":

  • "Calculator: Building a Simple Application (152 pp.)

  • "MathPaper: A Multiple-Document, Multiprocess Application (154 pp.)

  • "GraphPaper: A Multithreaded, Mouse-Tracking Application (150 pp.)

Each application is used as a vehicle for explaining certain aspects of Cocoa programming. For instance, the Calculator app is used to introduce "Nibs and Icons", "Delegation and Resizing", "Events and Responders", and "Darwin and the Window Server".

Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X

This book "splits the difference" between "Cocoa Programming" and "Cocoa Programming for Dummies". It moves a lot faster than one and a lot slower than the other. It has a nice sprinkling of screenshots, many useful diagrams, and a fair amount of detail. I'm particularly happy with the coverage of design techniques, programming pitfalls, and other "incidental" issues.

The writing style is quite informal and relaxed, but the content is very solid. If you can't afford to attend a course at "Big Nerd Ranch" (the author's training facility), you may find that this book provides a similar set of information, delivered in a similar manner.

Cocoa Recipes for Mac OS X

This book is based on the "Vermont Recipes" application, a "sampler" which shows off most of the simpler Cocoa widgets (e.g., buttons, drawers, sliders, tabs, and text items), complete with error-checking code and other niceties. , tab views, and drawers). It walks the reader, in painstaking detail, through the steps needed to reproduce and enhance the application.

The web site (www.stepwise.com/Articles/VermontRecipes) contains both the app and the project files that were used to build it. If you like to work your way through someone else's examples, this site (and the accompanying book) should be very worthwhile. Alternatively, the app provides a fast way to play around with a lot of Cocoa widgets.

Because my own approach involves blundering my way through my own projects, I haven't used this book (or any of these books, really) as the authors intended. Nonetheless, I was able to use it from time to time as a way to clarify obscure points of Cocoa programming and tool use.

Cocoa Programming

As noted above, this is a very detailed and definitive volume. In fact, I found it rather intimidating at first: lots of text, a fair amount of code, and only a small number of screenshots and tables. With time, however, I realized that this book was answering my programming questions better than any of the other volumes.

I like this book so well, in fact, that I'd like to see it expanded into two volumes. The first could be augmented with more introductory information (e.g., on Apple's developer tools, the Cocoa programming model, etc.) The second could concentrate on some of the more esoteric aspects of the Apple Frameworks.

Coming Attractions

Other Cocoa programming books are on the way. Some of these will fill in holes left by the current crop; others will attempt to supplant existing books. None of the current books cover Cocoa programming in languages other than Objective-C (e.g., AppleScript, Java, Perl, Python, Ruby, and Visual Basic); I know of at least one such book (on Perl) that is in development.

I would really like to see a detailed reference for the entire range of Apple's developer tools. I have spent far too much time trying to find information on Interface Builder and Project Builder; I'd love to have a single book that covers them, as well as some of the obscure tools in "/Developer/Tools" and "/Developer/Applications", in painstaking detail.


Rich Morin

 
AAPL
$105.03
Apple Inc.
+0.20
MSFT
$46.01
Microsoft Corpora
+0.99
GOOG
$538.97
Google Inc.
-5.01

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OS X Server 4.0 - For OS X 10.10 Yosemit...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.12 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
BusyCal 2.6.3 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. BusyCal's unique... Read more
calibre 2.7 - Complete e-library managem...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more
Skitch 2.7.3 - Take screenshots, annotat...
With Skitch, taking, annotating, and sharing screenshots or images is as fun as it is simple.Communicate and collaborate with images using Skitch and its intuitive, engaging drawing and annotating... Read more
Delicious Library 3.3.2 - Import, browse...
Delicious Library allows you to import, browse, and share all your books, movies, music, and video games with Delicious Library. Run your very own library from your home or office using our... Read more
Art Text 2.4.8 - Create high quality hea...
Art Text is an OS X application for creating high quality textual graphics, headings, logos, icons, Web site elements, and buttons. Thanks to multi-layer support, creating complex graphics is no... Read more
Live Interior 3D Pro 2.9.6 - Powerful an...
Live Interior 3D Pro is a powerful yet very intuitive interior designing application. View Video Tutorials It has every feature of Live Interior 3D Standard, plus some exclusive ones: Create multi... Read more
The Hit List 1.1.7 - Advanced reminder a...
The Hit List manages the daily chaos of your modern life. It's easy to learn - it's as easy as making lists. And it's powerful enough to let you plan, then forget, then act when the time is right.... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.2.4 - Organize your digita...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for D...
Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for Developers Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] Rami Ismail, Chief Executive of Business and Development at indie game studio | Read more »
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets Ne...
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets New Update – Say That Three Times Fast Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Rival Stars Basketball Review
Rival Stars Basketball Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RESTRICTIVE BUT FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rival Stars Basketball is a fun mixture of basketball and card collecting but its... | Read more »
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen o...
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen of Their Games Free For This Weekend Only Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
I Am Dolphin Review
I Am Dolphin Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEARLY FIN-TASTICUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Swim around and eat nearly everything that moves in I Am Dolphin, a fun Ecco-ish kind of game... | Read more »
nPlayer looks to be the ultimate choice...
Developed by Newin Inc, nPlayer may seem like your standard video player – but is aiming to be the best in its field by providing high quality video play performance and support for a huge number of video formats and codecs. User reviews include... | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASSY STORYTELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch is a sterling... | Read more »
A Few Days Left (Games)
A Few Days Left 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Screenshots are in compliance to App Store's 4+ age rating! Please see App Preview for real game play! **Important: Make... | Read more »
Toca Boo (Education)
Toca Boo 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: BOO! Did I scare you!? My name is Bonnie and my family loves to spook! Do you want to scare them back? Follow me and I'll... | Read more »
Intuon (Games)
Intuon 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Join the battle with your intuition in a new hardcore game Intuon! How well do you trust your intuition? Can you find a needle in a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Nimbus Note Cross=Platform Notes Utility
Nimbus Note will make sure you never forget or lose your valuable data again. Create and edit notes, save web pages, screenshots and any other type of data – and share it all with your friends and... Read more
NewerTech’s Snuglet Makes MagSafe 2 Power Con...
NewerTech has introduced the Snuglet, a precision-manufactured ring designed to sit inside your MagSafe 2 connector port, providing a more snug fit to prevent your power cable from unintentional... Read more
Apple Planning To Sacrifice Gross Margins To...
Digitimes Research’s Jim Hsiao says its analysts believe Apple is planning to sacrifice its gross margins to save its tablet business, which has recently fallen into decline. They project that Apple’... Read more
Who’s On Now? – First Instant-Connect Search...
It’s nighttime and your car has broken down on the side of the highway. You need a tow truck right away, so you open an app on your iPhone, search for the closest tow truck and send an instant... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $949,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $949.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $150 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $125 on Retina MacBook Pros
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available sta...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for up to $60 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $255... Read more
Textilus New Word, Notes and PDF Processor fo...
Textilus is new word-crunching, notes, and PDF processor designed exclusively for the iPad. I haven’t had time to thoroughly check it out yet, but it looks great and early reviews are positive.... Read more
WD My Passport Pro Bus-Powered Thunderbolt RA...
WD’s My Passport Pro RAID solution is powered by an integrated Thunderbolt cable for true portability and speeds as high as 233 MB/s. HighlightsOverviewSpecifications Transfer, Back Up And Edit In... Read more
Save with Best Buy’s College Student Deals
Take an additional $50 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through November 1st. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take advantage... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.